There’s a new wave of professionals who want to plug in at a time and location that suits them – and they’re changing the way we work
Meet Generation Flex – an ever-expanding pool of independent, skilled workers for whom employment no longer means a destination to reach or a rigid daily routine.
Tech-savvy, smart and dynamic, this is a modern workforce that expects – indeed demands – a more flexible approach to working. And it’s not afraid to make its feelings known.
According to a recent Global Workspace Survey undertaken by IWG, the International Workplace Group and leading global flexible workspace provider, 83% of workers around the world said they would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible working.
Gen Flex has clear ideas of how its working day should look and, if businesses can’t accommodate this promising talent source, they’re the ones at risk of losing out. To prove this point, more than half of the 15,000 professionals surveyed by IWG say that having a choice of work location is more important to them than working for a prestigious company.
The work landscape has undoubtedly changed. With half of the respondents working outside the main office for half the week, the power is shifting towards the employee. And, as flexible working becomes the new norm, any business that is serious about building a successful future, needs to adapt accordingly.
With other benefits of flexible working for businesses including increased productivity, lower overheads and accelerated speed to market, it’s no coincidence that, over the past decade, 85% of employers have implemented a flexible workspace policy or are planning to do so.
So, what is it exactly that Generation Flex wants and how can businesses reap the flexible working rewards, too?
Work smarter, not harder
Generation Flex has grown up alongside the rapid acceleration of technology. In a couple of years, it’s said that 80% of the world’s population will own a smartphone. And with this remarkable shift in technology has come a significant change in attitudes towards the workplace.
Skilled workers can now plug in and work from anywhere. As such, these digital nomads appreciate flexibility. They want to work their own hours in remote locations as well as co-working spaces. What they don’t want is to be tied to one place.
This is especially the case when it comes to the work commute, often deemed lengthy, expensive and, at times, stressful. According to the IWG survey, two-fifths of people worldwide see commuting as the worst part of the day (40%), while more than half of respondents believe it could be obsolete by 2030.
Getting the balance right
This is, after all, a generation for whom the work/life balance is crucial. It wants to be able to manage work around life, not the reverse. The IWG survey found that flexible working is seen to improve this balance by 78%.
Indeed, a third of survey respondents (32%) say that flexible working is so important to them that they would turn down a job did that not offer it.
Instead, they’re looking to work for a business that offers a collaborative community and a more inclusive working environment, which can particularly benefit returning parents, older workers and those suffering from stress or mental health issues.
Back to business
Flexibility not only makes workers happier and healthier; it gets the job done. Giving employees the freedom to complete work where and when it suits them, without a fixed work pattern, has seen more than a third of business leaders report that businesses can increase productivity by more than 40%.
These figures take on even more resonance in light of the UN reporting that the global slowdown in productivity is one of the most prominent features of the world economy in recent years.
Flexible working can also play a key strategic role in recruitment and motivation. It not only means that the talent pool to choose from, expands, but also that 77% of businesses are introducing flexible working to improve employee retention.
Not to mention that, with uncertain financial times ahead, flexible working allows businesses to be more agile and cost-effective. More than a third of businesses are looking to expand internationally in 2019, and 64% say flexible working accelerates speed to market in new markets. In addition, without expensive, inflexible overheads, it can significantly reduce a company’s capital and operational expenditure.
A meeting of minds
While Generation Flex is looking to work in different ways that suit its lifestyle, smart businesses – in order to attract these talented professionals, as well as increase productivity and prepare for changing circumstances – are adapting their workspace strategy accordingly. And, with everyone set to benefit, the case for flexible working really does add up, ensuring a great day at work for all.
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